Reaffirming commitment: SC vows to protect Constitution

Published: August 29, 2014
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The SC bench told PTI and PAT attorneys to ensure they clear one side of the road otherwise it could invoke Article 190 of the Constitution. PHOTO: AFP

The SC bench told PTI and PAT attorneys to ensure they clear one side of the road otherwise it could invoke Article 190 of the Constitution. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

The apex court on Thursday issued an emphatic rejoinder, stating that the judiciary’s purpose was simply to protect the Constitution amid the ongoing unrest.

The Supreme Court’s four-judge larger bench – headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Nasirul Mulk – was hearing a number of petitions filed by different bar associations.

The petitions – seeking judicial redress for all perceived violations of the Constitution and law in the wake of current anti-government protests – included one seeking vacation of the Constitutional Avenue, where the protesting parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), are staging their sit-ins.

“Our aim is to protect the Constitution,” remarked Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, a member of the bench. Justice Nasir said he agreed with Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who on Wednesday remarked that the case was not about Constitution Avenue but about the Constitution itself.

Justice Saqib asked Supreme Court Bar Association president Kamran Murtaza to read out the superior judges’ amended code of conduct, which binds them not to take oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) as well as to validate any extra-constitutional step.

He also referred to the Constitution’s Article 5 and 6, which highlight the punishment for violating the Constitution.

Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk said the apex court had already passed an initial order in this regard and would pass any further appropriate order if such a situation arose again as the case was still pending with the court.

SC may invoke Article 190

The SC bench told PTI and PAT attorneys to ensure they clear one side of the road otherwise it could invoke Article 190 of the Constitution.

The PTI lawyer Hamid Khan admitted that the PTI was still camped on the road. The PAT lawyer Ali Zafar said he was not aware of the current situation. “But I will try to convince my client to vacate one side of the road,” he added.

The chief justice said the protestors should find a way to clear one side of the road, adding that the court was not passing order in this regard. “Despite the Attorney General for Pakistan’s request, the court has not directed the government to vacate the Constitutional Avenue,” he added.

Earlier, the petitioner’s lawyer Athar Bukhari had recommended the bench to direct all state functionaries under Article 190 of the Constitution to implement its order regarding the vacation of the avenue.  “If our orders are not being implemented then we may invoke Article 190 of the Constitution,” the bench replied.

Under the Article 190, the court can ask any authority – even the military – to help implement its order.

Meanwhile, a lawyer requested the bench to stop the PAT workers from digging graves on Constitutional Avenue. The court, however, rejected this plea, saying that it was the government’s job to handle the issue.

The court again asked the counsels for respondents to vacate one side of the avenue and present a report today (Friday). The hearing of the case is adjourned until September 1.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2014.

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